The Public Health ROI

Claudia Nance Rollins and her son O. Wayne Rollins

The businessman's businessman, O. Wayne Rollins believed in return on investment, even in philanthropy. His foundation is supporting a new public health building, which is named for his mother, Claudia Nance Rollins (shown here with her son at her Catoosa County home in northwest Georgia).

The importance of investing in people

Amy Rollins Kreisler didn't have just any grandfather. O. Wayne Rollins was a businessman extraordinaire, building a national empire of radio and television stations, oil and gas services, pest control, and security systems. When he died in 1991, he was one of the largest landowners in Florida and Georgia.

"Ever the businessman, my grandfather would always consider return on investment, even in his philanthropy," Kreisler said at the launch of Campaign Emory in September. "He would ask himself, 'What kind of return will this get as far as humanity is concerned?'"

As executive director of the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation, Kreisler believes her grandfather would be proud of the return on investment achieved through contributions to the Emory school of public health that carries the name of her family. Since the family’s early support for the Grace Crum Rollins Public Health Building, named for Kreisler’s grandmother, the Rollins School of Public Health has tripled its number of faculty, students, and researchers. Now ranked among the top 10 schools of public health, the school has a reach that extends from preventing cancer in rural Southwest Georgia to preventing infectious pneumonia in South Africa.

From Atlanta's backyard to Kenyan fields, Rollins faculty are working to create a healthier world. They are collaborating with researchers in India to prevent and treat a burgeoning diabetes epidemic. They are developing a simple panel of tests to detect colon cancer risk before the disease occurs. They are exploring the long-lasting effects of improved nutrition on children in Latin America and spearheading efforts to improve water and sanitation for the 2.4 billion people who lack safe water worldwide. 

The Rollins family has enabled much of that good to spread through endowed gifts to the school. And most recently, the family pledged a lead gift for construction of the Claudia Nance Rollins Building, named for Wayne’s mother. The building will more than double the space for the fast-growing school.

"My grandfather believed that giving to a living institution that goes on and on and affects people's lives is the highest kind of giving because you are investing in people," says Kreisler. "I can't think of a better reason why our family supports Emory University."



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